April 12, 2024


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He explained the resignation of Muhammad Shtayyeh and the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority government

He explained the resignation of Muhammad Shtayyeh and the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority government

Muhammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, nominally the group responsible for the Palestinian parts of the West Bank, submitted his resignation and dissolved the PA government on Monday. But Shtayyeh's decision may not have much weight in the face of an ossified organization, led by 88-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, which faces an uncertain post-war future.

The Palestinian Authority has been the representative of the Palestinian people on the world stage since the 1990s. Abbas took power in 2004, but a combination of corrupt leadership, Israeli aggression, expansionist policies, and a power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas diminished the organization's power and legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority remains an important organization internationally, including the United States government. In discussions about the status of the occupied Palestinian territories after the Israeli war on Gaza, the United States called for the Palestinian Authority to be the ruling authority in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem once the months-long war in Gaza ends, putting renewed focus on the organization. But the United States and Arab countries pushed for change within the Palestinian Authority, arguing that it needed to make reforms and hold elections that would renew its legitimacy among Palestinians.

It appears that Shtayyeh's resignation is a step towards responding to international pressure. As he told his government on Monday, “the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in the Gaza Strip… and the urgent need for a joint Palestinian settlement.” [national] Consensus… and extension [PA’s] Authority over the entire territory of Palestine.” The Financial Times reported.

Shtayyeh He will remain in his caretaker position until a new government is formed, which could take weeks. It is expected that Abbas Muhammad Mustafa, an economist at the World Bank and one of his close citizens, will be appointed prime minister.

But Shtayyeh's resignation will not necessarily lead to the changes demanded by external and internal stakeholders, and the reduction of executive authority among them. There is no sense of when the current Israeli war in Gaza will end – or what will happen to the people living there when it does. Therefore, while Shtayyeh's resignation may signal an acknowledgment that Palestinian representation must change, it likely will not mean any fundamental change in the short term, either for the Palestinian Authority or for the Palestinian people in general.

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Who is Shtayyeh in the Palestinian political scene?

The Palestinian Authority was created in the 1990s during the Oslo Accords – ostensibly the first phase of Palestinian self-rule negotiations, although no mechanism for further negotiations or final outcome was identified and a future Palestinian state was not defined.

The Palestinian Authority was headed at that time by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. It was technically the ruling authority over the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem from 1994 until 2006, although Israel occupied Gaza until 2005 and Arafat had assumed power. Under house arrest During the second intifada in the early 2000s. But Hamas won a parliamentary majority in the 2006 elections, eventually leading to a civil war between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007.

In the years that followed, Abbas's government became the subject of attention As corrupt and a tool of the Israeli occupationThis is partly because Israel now controls much of the West Bank, as well as having access to the Palestinian Authority's tax revenues.

As prime minister, Shtayyeh's role is to bring together the PA government – ​​that is, to organize and chair meetings of ministers of government bodies. These sessions are supposed to be approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, but it has not met regularly since 2007, and the term of its elected members ended in 2010. This means that Abbas rules by decree in the areas of the West Bank where he is already present. He has the authority to rule.

Abbas Shtayyeh was appointed to his current position in 2019, but he has become part of the PLO structure since 2009, when he was elected a member of the Fatah Central Committee. Fatah, to which Abbas also belongs, is one of the political parties that make up the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the dominant force in the Palestinian Authority.

Shtayyeh and Abbas are known to be close, although Shtayyeh has sometimes mocked the PA party line. Exiting political negotiations with the United States and Israel in 2014 For example, regarding the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. But mostly, Shtayyeh is “part of that inner circle, Abbas’s inner circle — that is shrinking,” Khaled Al-Jundi, director of the Middle East Institute’s program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli affairs, told Fox in an interview. He survived, but that's a low bar. He works under the direction of the President, who is not an independent Prime Minister like him [Salam] It was Fayyad. “He's more loyal.”

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It is possible, then, that Shtayyeh's resignation comes at Abbas's request, so that Abbas can, at least superficially, appear responsive to the demand for change that is now coming from several fronts, internally and externally.

It is also worth noting that the resignation comes ahead of the planned negotiations to form a unity government between Fatah and Hamas this week in Moscow, in addition to US President Joe Biden’s announcement that… Ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas Now showing promise.

Under these circumstances, Shtayyeh’s resignation can be read as a gesture to the Hamas leadership, but “the resignation of the Shtayyeh government has no meaning unless it comes in the context of the national consensus on the arrangements for the next stage,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas leader. Official, He told Reuters Monday.

Shtayyeh's resignation will not change anything in the short term

The Palestinian Authority is very unpopular among Palestinians, for some reasons why it and Abbas represent a satisfactory solution for the United States and Western countries – mostly because of its cooperation with the Israeli state and the entrenchment of the status quo.

Yazid Sayegh, a senior fellow at the Malcolm Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, told Vox in an interview that Abbas is “someone who never went to weddings or funerals, never shook hands or kissed children.” “So he hid behind its walls, looked for international interlocutors, and hoped that the fact that he had repeatedly proven that he was committed to the Oslo framework and to security coordination with Israel would somehow give him credit.”

But Abbas's government It has almost no internal legitimacyIts external legitimacy – especially among the Arab countries that support the Palestinian state, and increasingly within the United States and the West – is failing.

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Al-Jundi said that Abbas “is becoming less popular day by day.” “He is exaggerating his position here; He does not have a strong hand domestically. He may be counting on being the only player available for the future Palestinian leadership.

Abbas has shown himself Unwilling to name a potential successorOr cede executive authority to the prime minister, submit to elections, or negotiate with Hamas to build a government that might be able to supervise the occupied Palestinian territories. All of this means that regardless of who is prime minister, the political circumstances for the Palestinians probably will not change much as long as Abbas remains president and remains head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“The issue was and continues to be Abbas, not Shtayyeh,” John Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Vox. Even if the Palestinian Authority forms a new technocratic government, as the United States and Arab countries want, “most of the bureaucrats will remain as they are.”

Although the United States and other external stakeholders hope that dissolving the PA government will provide the change they seek to govern the Palestinian territories in the future, several major obstacles that transcend internal PA politics remain, not the least of which is Israel's opposition to the resolution. Participation of the Palestinian Authority in the post-war scenario. In the past, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly opposed such a role for the Palestinian Authority; His new post-war game plan did not rule out the involvement of the Palestinian Authority He didn't explicitly endorse that either. The Arab countries that can finance the reconstruction of Gaza – specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – will not do so Without a clear path towards establishing a future Palestinian state.